Wedding vs Elopement

Many couples have been on the fence lately trying to decide between having a Wedding vs an Elopement. For some couples it’s a no brainer- whereas others have some questions…What is the difference? Which one is better to do? Which one is more affordable? How does one decide, etc. While both have pro’s and cons, I’m here to help you decide which one is a better fit for YOU! Let’s dive in!

Wedding couple standing in front of a window at the Van Dusen Mansion in Minneapolis

What is The Difference Between a Wedding vs an Elopement?

The major difference between a wedding vs an elopement is the amount of people present on your wedding day. There are many different types of weddings and elopements and it’s important to know what these differences are.

A Traditional Wedding is a celebration that usually consists of a ceremony at either a church, wedding venue or ceremony site, followed by a meal, speeches and dancing. Smaller weddings have 50 to 100 guests, whereas larger weddings can have 250+ guests!

An Elopement is a much smaller, intimate celebration where you exchange vows and sign your marriage certificate. Elopements can be as extravagant or as simple as you choose! Some couples elope at a courthouse with just their officiant, while others will travel to a beautiful destination with a few of their loved ones and vendors to capture their special day. It is completely up to you! Most couples today when they talk about eloping, they mean destination elopement!

Beautiful sunset veil shot of wedding couple at the Van Dusen Mansion in Minneapolis

Is Eloping Cheaper than a Wedding?

According to The Knot, the average cost of a traditional wedding in the US is $35K, which is far higher than the average cost of an elopement of $10k.

The major costs of a traditional wedding consists of the wedding venue, catering, photographer and DJ. The major costs of an elopement consists of your photographer and airfare tickets + accommodation, assuming you’re traveling to a destination. If you’d like to view my detailed elopement investment guide, please reach out here- Heidi Straus Photography.

Which One is More Stressful- A Wedding or Elopement?

Planning your special day can be stressful for both a wedding and elopement. Many couples like to skip the drama when it comes to planning a big traditional wedding because of many different reasons like crazy in-laws, having family in many different places, trying to please different people, deciding who to invite, spending a lot of money etc! Whereas an elopement takes away a lot of this drama and stress.

However, planning your elopement can still be stressful- just in a different way! If you’re planning one in an unfamiliar place that you don’t know very well, chances are you’re going to need a lot of planning. (P.S your photographer can help you plan!) You may also have some push back from family and friends who may not approve of your decision to elope.

Wedding couple pouring champagne into the champagne tower at the Van Dusen Mansion in Minneapolis

Wedding vs Elopement Pro’s & Con’s

Here are some pros and cons to consider before choosing which one is best for you!

Elopement Pro’s:

  • Intimate and Personal
  • More about the two of you than others
  • Can be a lot cheaper
  • Can be less stressful
  • Unique
  • You get to explore a beautiful place together
  • No strict timeline to follow

Elopement Con’s:

  • Not celebrating with all your friends and family
  • Parents + relatives may not approve
  • No wedding gifts
  • May have to wake up really early to get to your destination (Getting hair + Make up done and hiking to catch sunrise for example)

Wedding Pro’s:

  • May be something you’ve dreamt of your whole life
  • Celebrating with all your loved ones
  • Wedding gifts
  • Help from many people on your day like bridesmaids, mother etc.

Wedding Con’s:

  • Expensive
  • Stressful
  • Strict timeline or Itinerary
  • More family drama

How to Include Friends & Family Into Your Elopement

Black and White themed bridal party popping champagne while getting ready at Ahavah Cottage in Minnesota

Maybe you’re interested in the excitement of eloping at a beautiful destination and getting stunning photos, but you still want to celebrate with all your friends and family! Here are some ways to include your loved ones in your elopement and get the best of both worlds!

Invite Them

Now, this one may be obvious, but the most straight forward way to include your loved ones would be to invite them! Many people might decline because of different reasons such as finances or time off though. You can still send out an invite that includes different options for places to stay at, activities to do and more!

Have Weekend Experience

Rent out an Air-BnB for your closest friends and family and enjoy some fun activities together on Friday and Saturday. Then on Sunday, the two of you go off alone together to have your intimate ceremony and exchange personal vows. This is a great way to include your friends and family to have some fun together while still having a “just us” elopement moment!

Have a “Send Off” Dinner

This is a fun way to spend time with your loved ones before you leave! Have a dinner or brunch where people can spend time with you guys and wish you well before your travels!

Hire a Photographer & Videographer and Have a Watch Party

Hiring a photographer and videographer to document your beautiful day is already something you should totally do! Imagine how fun it would be to have a watch party after your elopement where everyone can come together to watch your elopement video or have a slide show with photos to relive this amazing day with you guys!

Include Friends & Family in the Preparation and Excitement

Invite your girl-friends, mom and grandma’s to go dress shopping with you! Include them in some of the preparation like having a spa day to get your hair and nails done. Go out for drinks and chat all about the fun activities you guys are going to do on your epic elopement day! There are many ways to make your closest loved ones feel involved even when they won’t be there on the actual day!

Have a Post Elopement Reception or Celebration

Just because you’re having an intimate elopement for the two of you doesn’t mean you can’t have a fun get together afterwards! Rent out an event space, have a barbecue at someone’s place to celebrate or do something that feels like you!

So, Should You Elope or Have a Wedding?

Grand Canyon Elopement Couple kissing at the edge of a cliff overlooking the canyon during sunset

If you’ve read this post and you’re still not sure what to do, consider these final thoughts…

An elopement is for you if:

  • Your photos are incredibly important to you and you want beautiful scenery in your photos
  • You would like to spend less money on tons of other people
  • You would like to have your day be intimate, unique and more about the two of you
  • You absolutely love traveling and you’re adventurous at heart

A wedding is for you if:

  • Your friends and family are extremely important to you and you want them there on your special day
  • You care about certain wedding traditions like having a father-daughter dance etc
  • It’s something you’ve dreamt about your whole life
  • You love being in the spotlight and handle stress well

About Heidi Straus Photography

Destination Wedding and Elopement photographer based in Minneapolis, Minnesota, traveling world-wide

Hi, I’m Heidi! I’m a Destination Wedding & Elopement photographer based in Minneapolis, MN. I absolutely love capturing warm, candid photos! If you’re looking for a laid back, fun photographer to capture your special day and help you plan, let’s connect!

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